Sunday, February 27, 2011

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91: 1-2 (NIV)

We tend to crave control. We want to be in charge. If we are not in charge of what is going on with our lives and we don’t know what’s next, maybe our natural worry would consist of feelings of deep insecurity or worry. What’s next? What’s going to happen tomorrow?

Maybe like me, you find yourself asking ‘what ifs’ constantly.

While I got saved at a young age, my walk with the Lord was not something I took seriously until the end of my junior year of high school. I can say that something I have been learning throughout the last 4 years of my walk with Christ is that obedience is something that many times never makes sense, it’s scary, it takes faith that so many times I don’t even feel like I have, it’s a risk of losing my own security and trusting that God is going to take care of me, and it’s a time where God asks me to put my money where my mouth is.

Amen or ouch, right?!

One of the most important lessons I feel that I have learned in my walk with this whole obedience thing is that while it is often about a decision or a circumstance, the most important part is the desire of my heart. What are my motives? Do I desire to be obedient because I love the Lord with every part of my being? Do I really trust that God has a plan for my life and that HIS plans are better than mine? Do I really believe that God wants to give me the desires of my heart like He promises? Is it just about not sinning?

If obedience is going to be something that I strive to do in every aspect of my life, it has to be more than just about not sinning. I would be lying if I said that obedience does not require sacrifice, because honestly, that is the absolute hardest part for me. Being obedient means that I am going to go wherever God leads me and that I will do whatever He tells me, no matter the sacrifice involved. This doesn’t just mean ‘God I am going to be obedient if it fits with my plan or with the way I think things are going to be.’

Recently for me, I have found myself at a crossroads. My plans and the things that I thought were set, sure, and safe, were not the things the Lord wanted for me. No matter how I tried to convince myself that maybe God would put this in His plan, or that I could make it work and be in the center of His will, I was so wrong. I became complacent in my walk with the Lord, avoiding quiet time for fear that His ‘still small voice’ would not be so small, but instead a large, loud voice that I could not run from. When the Lord asked obedience of me, He did not ask me to question Him about tomorrow, or to worry what’s around the corner. While I cannot see what is completely ahead of me, the Lord is already there. In this situation, like a few before in my life, obedience would require me to take a risk, to trust, to have faith, and to get out of what’s been comfortable for me, to completely change my mind and my thoughts. My simple response in my own mind was- “Lord, there is no way. I can’t do this. You really just don’t understand.”

It’s in these moments, where I have little faith, where I am questioning the creator of the Universe about HIS plans for my life, that I realize just how much He truly loves me. How? I am blessed to tell you.

The Lord has given me complete peace. It isn’t even something words can explain. My spirit that was wrestling, tired, and fighting constantly, is at rest. The Lord has been pouring His love in complete and full abundance into my life through His word, through songs and lyrics, and through people in my life. He has affirmed to me that I am following His will for my life. This for me is enough. When I thought everything was going to fall apart and now that all my plans had fallen through and I have no idea what tomorrow holds, all my what if’s and fears of living in that which in my mind should be happening right now, are completely non-existent.

It reminds me so much of the story in the Bible where the Lord asks Abraham to place his own son on the altar. Talk about a time to decide if you are going to be obedient or not...We know how the story unfolds and Abraham chooses to listen, and just in time, the Angel stops Abraham from killing his son.

Like a song quotes: "But God in all His sovereignty had bigger plans, and just in time, He brought a lamb." and later the song describes God as about being the "calm in Abraham"...

Even in the midst of a moment that made absolutely no sense, when obedience was being asked,
God knew exactly what He was doing.

For a while now I realize how complacent I have been in my spiritual walk with the Lord and I feel that part of me that has been dead for so long has come back to life. It has been so refreshing! Did the Lord stop loving me because I wasn’t following his leading? No. He did the complete opposite. He has loved me this entire time, never once turning His back to me or telling me “he’s had enough.” I often think about this….no matter how long it takes, how stubborn I choose to be, and how disobedient I am, the Lord continually pursues me. This truly is one of my favorite aspects of the character and nature of God. His love is never forced, but He is gently pursuing us constantly.

My journey of obedience during this part of my life does not stop here. I was privileged to be a part of an awesome worship service, leading worship with Everpraise. During this service in the middle of a song, the Holy Spirit began speaking to me. This was not exactly what I would consider subtle or something that I could ignore. I honestly don’t even know how I managed to continue singing through the song. It all seems now like a blur but I just remember the Lord pushing me to tell what He is doing in my life right now and how He has been working in my life. I immediately responded I don’t have any idea how to put in words what has been going on and I do not want to look stupid. Again, here was a crossroads, was I going to put my pride aside and be obedient to the Spirit, or do it my way?

I am thankful and blessed to say that I was obedient to the Spirit. Before the next song, I interjected and just said that I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed to say but that I needed to be obedient. I really am not even sure what came out of my mouth or what I was saying, but I was at complete peace, a confidence that I often lack was taking over, and I shared my heart. I thank God for moments like this. It was here that in my head I thought to myself to embrace the moment, as it is a reminder that God moves and speaks and He wants to use us if we are willing.

I was blessed more than I can tell you through the service. That was enough for me. I believe that God wants to confirm things in our spirit and I think He rewards us when we are obedient. At lunch, a woman came up to me and sat down beside me. In less than a minute she simply told me that everything I said today was what her and her daughter needed to hear and explained her situation to me. I was completely humbled in this moment, and practically speechless and in my head said Thank you Lord for even thinking about using someone like me.

What a blessing!!! I truly feel like my life has taken a turn, one that is new and exciting but most importantly I feel like I am at a place of total surrender and peace. For all the questions that I have, the worries I tend to let overtake my mind, and the what if’s, this has been another stepping stone in my journey that has helped me to put my faith into action.

I want to wrap all this up with something that I have been struggling with through this entire process. It’s a question that my Mom asked me – “Do you really not think God wants to give you the desires of your heart? What makes you think God wouldn’t give you the things your heart really wants?”

I had no response.

Most of my life, it may not be known to many people, but I have struggled to believe in myself, to believe that I am worth loving, and to believe that God really wants to do something big with my life. I feel like because I grew up in church and I have some of the Godliest people as parents and I have had nothing but a great life growing up, that I should be farther along in my journey than I am. I have made some big mistakes in my life and I would be ashamed if my file cabinet of secrets were pulled out for everyone to read, but in all of this God has shown me that He loves me despite all this and He wants to use me. Not because I deserve it, but just because He loves me. He wants to be all that I need. I am evidence that His grace truly is sufficient.

I am excited about what is ahead of me. I am experiencing a peace that passes all understanding and my smile is real. I sure don’t have it altogether, but the joy and blessing I have experienced after being obedient to the Lord is something that makes sacrifice not even compare to God’s blessings and plans.

I realize this might be the longest blog I have posted yet, but words truly cannot express my heart and the joy I am experiencing resting in the Lord and His promises. He has plans for my life and He truly wants to give me the desires of my heart. I pray that as I continue this daily journey of surrender, that I will believe that God has my best interest in mind all the time even when things don’t make sense to me.

I pray that as you read this that you will be encouraged, that you will believe that God has plans for your life no matter where you’ve been and where you’re at right now, He simply wants us to surrender our hearts and lives to Him. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts.

What is God asking you to do today? What is He speaking to you about? Will you listen?

Total Surrender

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him."
2 Samuel 22:21(the msg)

I am not exactly sure what is going to come out of this blog.
I really don't, I just know that I need to write.
I got away, and have been sitting by myself just thinking about everything I am dealing with right now. I simply prayed Lord give me the words.
I open my bible...and that verse is right in front of me.
I can't say I've ever read through 2 Samuel for an encouraging verse like that.
Thank you Lord.
You know exactly what I need.

I will start by a simple prayer that comes from Psalm that I have been praying for the last several weeks.

"Test me, O lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth." Psalms 26:2-3

Honesty is hard.
Especially within your self.
Ever thought about why we try and lie to ourselves?

So in everything going on in my life right now and just really searching my own heart and truly being honest with myself, I realize I have been complacent, disobedient, settled, wrestling with truth, running from peace, scared of what's ahead, trusting in my own plans, closed to what God could have for me, anxious to live life my way, trying to push away from that ever small but present voice inside my head and heart that wants to speak truth into my life.

After a long battle, a restless spirit, an exhausted mind, and an emotional mess welling up inside of me I have found myself in a place of total surrender.
Obedience is scary when you don't know what's ahead of you.
But oh what Peace exists in the midst of a storm when you choose to Trust in Jesus.

"When you're truly in Love with Jesus, you'll be satisfied and you can rest in knowing that He is all that you need."
I was convicted when I heard my Dad quote something similar to this in a sermon a week ago.
Am I in love with Jesus?
Am I satisfied in all that He is?
Can I rest assured that He is going to take care of me?

It is sweet. It satisfies. It's restoring life in me that I haven't seen or felt in awhile.
"He is jealous for me..."
I am being pursued by the greatest love I will ever have.
I am falling in love all over again with Jesus.
It's alive. It's real. It's powerful. It's addicting.

Suddenly for being the "planned" person that I always am, I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. I have no idea what I am going to do when I graduate. I don't know any details about my future. And for the first time, I am okay with that.
I've stopped planning. Even wishing.
I am content right where I am at.

Maybe this is the best place to be.

I am open. I am willing. I may be broken but God is creating something beautiful and whole out of this mess of a life I have made.
He is faithful and even now is writing the Love story of my life and I cannot wait to see where He leads me.

It's amazing what happens in a place of total surrender.

"Nothing is impossible for you, You hold my world in your hands."

Oh Lord You've Searched Me...You know my ways

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I would venture to say this season of my life has been one I never thought would turn out to be anything that it is. I have written before about the changes and events that have happened and just the way that nothing has been how I thought it would turn out.
I would continue to say that this is how my life is during this time.
Things that I thought were certain, are no longer.
Plans that I had made, are no longer happening.
But most importantly, regardless of change, and taking the time to sort through everything going on, all I can simply say is there is nothing like the peace that God brings into our lives when we are following His voice and direction.

I have felt in the last few weeks that my life, thoughts, and emotions have been nothing but chaos, and somewhere in all of this mess I find myself being completely still in my spirit. It's scary how that happens, and there truly is nothing 'logical' about all of it.
That's the best part.

I feel at a loss for words at this point in my week, but I wanted to write to thank God for His peace, direction, love, understanding, patience, and the faithful promise of a future with plans that were made just for me.

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I rest assured in my creator and His promises.
I am excited to see what God has in store for me.

"A man's heart plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps."
Proverbs 16:9
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